Houston Shakespeare Festival 2023 Season Presents 'Macbeth' and 'Much Ado About Nothing'

Houston Shakespeare Festival 2023 Season Presents 'Macbeth' and 'Much Ado About Nothing'

July 26 2023

By Rebeca Hawley

Houston’s beloved summer tradition returns to the Miller Outdoor Theatre this year with the 2023 season of the Houston Shakespeare Festival kicking off Thursday, July 27 and running every night through Saturday, August 5. This year, the festival’s company will perform “Macbeth” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” showcasing the breadth of Shakespeare’s works. All shows are free to the public and produced by the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance at the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts.

"Macbeth” tells the dark story of a Scottish general and his wife who are plunged into a murderous quest by the prophecy of three cursed sisters. Consumed by brutal ambition, the couple’s bloodbath delivers the crown of Scotland to Macbeth. After unthinkable acts of betrayal, a price must be paid. Audiences will be presented with the foreboding nature of the play but with a twist; the performance is inspired by science fiction and will have brooding, spacey themes throughout.

As much as “Macbeth” is about gothic thrills, “Much Ado About Nothing” is about gaiety. The comedy takes audiences to the Italian seaside town of Messina where the quick-witted Beatrice spars with perpetual bachelor Benedick, and their battle of words ignites sparks. Meanwhile, young friends Hero and Claudio fall instantly in love, but will false accusations ruin their happy ending? Set and costume design will play up the opulence, romance and ornamentation of Enlightenment-era Italy.

“Houston Shakespeare Festival has always presented two contrasting Shakespeare plays – usually one comedy and one tragedy or history play,” said Rob Shimko, HSF executive director and UH School of Theatre & Dance director. “This year, we lean into the contrast between ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ If people didn't know better, it would be easy to imagine that these two plays were written by completely different people simply because the styles are so far apart.”

The festival brings together UH alums, current students, professors and other professional actors and crew to share with Houston the art of performance. A Bard Talk will precede each show at 7:45 p.m. These are 20-minute pre-show lectures led by Rob Shimko beside the theatre seating area that will discuss the historical context of the plays and what to keep an eye out for in the shows. Performances will follow at 8:15 p.m. This year, HSF guest artist Demetria Thomas will direct “Macbeth” and Amelia Fischer will direct “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“On top of the fact that this is the first time HSF has had both shows helmed by women, both of these artists got their training at UH, played major roles for HSF and took these skills into the field, garnering more work as actors and directors in major U.S. markets (Chicago for Demetria, Atlanta for Amelia),” said Jack Young, HSF artistic director and theatre professor. “As the professional arm of the School of Theatre & Dance, HSF is designed to make these kinds of investments in our emerging artists. The path toward being a stage director takes longer, but Demetria and Amelia's patience and persistence have paid off. Now, HSF, UH and Houston will reap the rewards of the investments made in them years ago.”

Since its inception in 1975 by Sidney Berger, former director of the School of Theatre & Dance, Houston Shakespeare Festival has entertained more than a million people on the green lawns of the Miller Outdoor Theatre, which is celebrating its centennial.

Attendance is free. There is seating on the hill and in the covered audience area. Tickets are required for the covered audience area; they are available at 10 a.m. the day before the performance. Tickets: https://www.milleroutdoortheatre.com/get-tickets/

Houston Shakespeare Festival Members can access premium assigned seating with the ability to exchange tickets. More information about HSF membership: www.uh.edu/support

Source: UH

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